Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SS Independence: Putting the Bell Puzzle Together

Life is always full of surprises. The other night a friend asked if I had a ship's bell on my boat. I replied, "no, I don't". He got up and returned with a back pack and pulled out a ship's bell. He stated he bought it several years ago in a donation auction and always thought it needed a ship.

He went on to say that he recently rang it at the funeral memorial of his long time friend and Chief of the Makah Indian Tribe at Neah Bay, Washington. It had been the only time he had rung the bell. I asked about the history of this bell and he relayed what had been told to him at the auction. The Independence was an aircraft carrier during the Viet Nam era and his Captain was named Bridges and is a family member of the Ben Bridges Jewelery stores in the Seattle area. Also, the Independence had been mothballed with the fleet in Pearl Harbor.

The next day, I pulled the bell out of the pack and really looked at it. I found it unusual that the inscription is
SS Independence; meaning sailing ship and not USS Independence, as it would be for a US Naval Ship. I googled the names and discover:

The SS Independence is a cruise ship:
  1. Built in the 50's on the east coast and in the 80's was refitted in Japan to become, along with its sister ship, The SS Constitution, an inter-island Hawaiian Cruise Line in the 80's. It ran for 20 years and the end the company went bankrupt. Her last Captain was Dana Wirkala.
  2. After that the ship had a miserable journey of being towed to various ports, running aground, hitting the Carquienez Bridge while heading into the Suisun Bay( Delta of California) to be mothballed, then back up to the Napa River at Mare Island Shipyard, where it grounded at the dock. It was then towed back to the Bay area and docked for years.
  3. It was bought by a shipwrecking company in India, who towed it to the Arabian Sea near the State of Gujarat in India where it ran aground on a small island just offshore. It lies, stuck, listing at 35 degrees and rusting.
  4. I am familiar with this sailing ship from seeing it many times in the Hawaiian waters, remember it hitting the Carquinez Bridge, as I had Shatoosh in the Delta at the time, have run aground on the Napa River myself, and have cruised past the mothball fleet in Suisuin Bay trying to find Montezuma Slough.
The USS Independence:
  1. Was an aircraft carrier used in the Viet Nam era and her sister Ship was the USS Saratoga, based out of Yokuska, Japan. I am very familar with the Saratoga, when being a Captain stationed in Yokohama, Japan in late 60's, we were frequent guests onboard the Saratoga, as I dated one of the young officers. We had many wonderful dinners onboard in the Captain's Mess when they were in port.
  2. The Independence was indeed, later mothballed, but in Washington state. Her last Captain was Mark Milliken, USN, who was the last person to leave the ship in 1998. He later became Rear Admiral.

After further examining this bell, I have deduced that it has never been used as a bell on the SS Independence, as there is no evidence of wear, and none of the parts fit together and the fork needs widening, the drill holes don't align and the clanger needs a rope attached,  perhaps it was given to the last Captain or some other member, as a departing gift. It seems as though Hira, Shatoosh and the SS Independence have traveled many of the same waters, so it is fitting that something belonging to her essence be in form on Shatoosh. It is beautiful and I will look forward to putting it on Shatoosh.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tacoma Schooner Rendevouz

23 April 2010:
The Schooner Kia Ora 1980 65 feet
My twin Jean joins me to celebrate our 67 birthday. While Shatoosh and Pashmina did not get to be here, we couldn't miss the opportunity to check out a few nautical oldies and goodies.

The Schooner Zodiac 1924 160 ft.

Wooden balls rather than hoops to haul up the sails.

The Schooner Martha 1907 84 ft

The Schooner W.N. Ragland 1913 101 ft.

Below decks several berths had curved elephant tusks to adorn the edges.

Such beautifully mantained vessels and it added a special touch for our birthday celebrations.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Update On My Cruise of the Snake and Columbia River

Monday, 19 April 2010

I recently notified the Hells Canyon Visitor Bureau in Clarkston, Washington to see if they could assist me in finding a parking place for my car while I am cruising down the rivers. They responded immediately and today I received an email stating that parking is available to me at Beamers Hells Canyon Tours. This is wonderful as we planned to take one of their tours anyway. Thank you again for all your help.

Go to their website and/or check out their facebook pages:

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Quick Getaway to Coon Island

9 April 2010 Friday: The news states there will be tie-ups along I-5 south of my home, so I scurry around packing a bag and am in a rush to get on the road. The clicker on the garage doesn't seem to work, so I manually get the door open. I test the clicker again and it is working, but as soon as the door closes it ceases to work. I test my car clicker and it, too, is not working properly. I, manually reopen the door, replace the batteries, and again, no luck. I decide to leave and deal with it all later. In all this confusion I forget to take my precious computer with me, as it was laying on the chair. Can I live without it for a whole weekend? NO blogging, no testing my Sea Clear program. Instead it will be a test for me. I'll see how I fare.

Friday night I catch up by reading 3 boating magazines. Saturday morning I am off to Coon Island which is only 3nm away. I see a familiar boat tied up to the docks and my friends take my lines. I have run into these folks 3 times now and we certainly enjoy talking boats to each other. He loves and has wanted an Albin for years, but ended up buying another sweet boat, a Bayliner 26 Explorer, named Harmony for the Finnish Sointula. They trailer their boat and will be taking her up to the Broughtons in British Columbia this summer. Wow, how fun would that be? He has done the Snake river so I picked his brain good. He and his wife, Betty were fishing off and all all day and Pepper his Aussie dog, watched the poles and whenever there was a strike up she'd jump. Dave threw back some small fish and out of the blue the eagles would swoop down and grab them with their talons and off to the trees they would fly. Quite a sight.

Lately as spring emerges, many Albin owners on the Yahoo Group are wanting to have hardtops made. I have been in conversation with several people and many discussions emrge about how many inches the side brow line should be. Since I have never measured mine several of us were thinking 3 inches might be the magic number. This information is a critical measurement, as too short the rain runs off into the cockpit and too long it would prevent you from walking on the side decks. So I decided to take my measurements and to my surprise my side and aft brow was 5 inches wide, thus creating a dripline onto the deck at the cockpit coaming. Perfect: see photo below. When I measured from 3 inches and dropped a plumb line it landed in a place that water would drip right into the cockpit.
Saturday afternoon and evening I tackled reading Ann Gash's, A Star To Steer Her By. Ann is known as the Sailing Granny of Australia. She circumnavigated the globe in the 70's and endured so many problems along her circumnavigation that I was exhausted after reading it. How she did it is beyond me? I wouldn't be up to it. In the 80's she cruised through the Hawaiian Islands on her way to California and back to Australia, when I was livng aboard on Sabra, my Swan 36. I did sail with her on Ilimo II from Honolulu to Kauai and back one summer. I learned many things from her. She is deceased now, but I always remember her as a sailing mentor for me. All of my Hawaiian sailing mentors have died now, but their spirits live within me and is going strong.

The dock cleared out Sunday afternoon, so I had the whole place to myself. I made my new bow and stern lines to be used on the bollards in the locks, cleaned the galley and stove and played Sudoku puzzles on my electronic version New York Times. While I kept busy I did miss my blogging in the evening.

The rains came and went all night long and I discovered a few leaky windows that need some sealant. I take my time returning to my marina, as I always hate to go back. The newly returning ospreys brightened my mood. All the cormorants have gone, it seems it is nature's way to "changing of the guards". I see old mother goose, high atop a deserted osprey nest/pilings, sitting on her next brood. Spring is definately in the air.

On the way home I stopped by Scappoose Bay to check out if I would have to pay any moorage fees when I haul out in June. They have an electronic system at the docks and I will have to pay for overnight moorage of $12.00. I took note of where to dock and had a lovely chat with Bonnie the owner of Scappoose Bay Kayaking. She showed me several interesting kayaks that were pedaled by leg power, a fishing version and a catamaran version made by Hobie Cat. All very interesting.

PS...my garage door clicker worked perfectly well upon arriving home. Is Mercury in retrograde? I'm so happy to be blogging again and will never forget my computer.